The Indian women’s team recently won the gold medal in the Asian Games 2023. While their victory was celebrated and cherished, it still doesn’t make women’s cricket a topic of household discussion or even something that most cricket crazy Indians even know about. That makes us wonder why this bias continues and what will it take to popularize women’s cricket.
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in India. It holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Indians and is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and society. While men’s cricket has been at the forefront forever, women’s cricket has just started to come up in the conversations. There is a huge difference in the popularity of men’s and women’s cricket in the world.
Why is that so? When asked by today’s women of urban India, we found some common answers:
The most logical reason, we found, is the fact that men have been playing cricket since the beginning. They have been in this for a longer time, and so, naturally, they have higher popularity among sports lovers. But we should not forget that there are reasons that played a very important role in the late entrance of women in this field. There are deeply ingrained stereotypes in our society, especially if we talk about India. Cricket, like most other sports, is considered to be a male-oriented sport. This obviously goes back to the prevalence of the patriarchal nature of the society.
“I think from the beginning society was a patriarchal society, maybe this resulted in a belief in all including women that it (cricket) is a game of men.”
These beliefs and stereotypes have kept women from various opportunities and explorations. And so, it took time for women to reach here breaking the barriers. We have not yet reached where we need to be and so there are still many barriers in the way.
“Marketing is a major factor- people need to realize the women can be good sportspersons + we shouldn’t see sports as only a male-dominated profession+ more popular brands should shake hands with female athletes (not just beauty brands)”
Lack of popularity in women’s cricket leads to a lack of sponsorships by businesses as they won’t invest in something that can’t get them profits. And this lack of investments is in itself a reason for the lack of popularity.
“The notion of the game traditionally being an “A Gentleman’s sport”, the fact that sports, in general, isn’t associated with women, and accordingly they don’t get enough media or mass attention, sponsorships, etc which further restricts their development.”
This vicious cycle is breaking with time as more and more women join cricket. As more and more talented women join the team, their talent gets recognized at some point through social media as was the case of Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Jessica Rodrigues. With women’s IPL taking off recently, it has given a push to this entire situation in a positive direction. But, we definitely have a long way to go to reach where men’s cricket is today. It will take a lot of more talented women in the forefront, increased social media and television coverage, and most importantly, sponsorship and funding backing the sport.
On that note, a good place to start would be to follow various members of the Indian women’s cricket team on Instagram or follow updates by BCCIWomen, the official Twitter handle of the Indian Women’s Cricket team. Female Cricket (https://femalecricket.com/) is a good website to follow to stay updated with women’s cricket.
It would also be a good idea to show young girls and boys the movie “Shabash Mithu” – the story of Mithali Raj which tells quite a bit about the story of the evolution of women’s cricket. Another movie to showcase women cricketers as role models will be “Chakda Xpress” – the story of Jhulan Ghoswami releasing in December 2023.
There are a couple of books as well, which we recommend should be available in school and college libraries to inspire young girls (click the below images to purchase on Amazon)
Cover Image credit: BCCI Women @BCCIWomen on X